Tuesday, October 27, 2009

To knit or not to knit

Like most crafters, I have favorite things.

I have favorite yarns, favorite types of patterns, favorite hooks and needles. Even a favorite place to sit myself when working on things.

So now, my question to myself as I finish a couple of large WIPs that I've enjoyed working on is this:

What do I embark on next?

Of course, the shorter, more budget conscious answer is to finish all those WIPs that are simmering, then pick up a few of those projects for which the yarn and patterns are all ready to go and do those. But then there's the thrill of the hunt, as it were. The joy of planning and plotting, seeking the perfect pattern and the perfect yarn.

I have some Frog Tree Alpaca Sport (one of my favorite yarns) for a hat for my mom. I have a Dubbelmossa hat that I've been working on for a while, which makes my heart sing with joy and which I suspect will keep my ears REALLY warm if I ever finish it. I could get some Black Water Abbey yarn (another favorite) and embark on some variation on a fisherman's gansey. Or I could take up some cobweb weight wool and begin a fine Shetland-style shawl.

At the beginning of the year I declared this The Year of Knitting Selfishly. I did this because 98% of what I make is for someone else, and I had only a hat I'd made myself. It's been a good run, and now, as the end of 2009 approaches, I find I have to do some things for others. Christmas gifts, baby gifts, birthday gifts, mourning gifts. So the decision still remains:

What's next?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Graciousness and Gratitude

When I was 10, my mother became ill. For the next two years, there was a cycle with her in the hospital for a week, home a week. It was very rough on my father and I. It was hard for him because he suddenly felt that he had both Mama and I to take care of. It was hard for me because I suddenly had to be a grown up in many ways.

I learned a lot of things when I was 10. I learned how to pick out which plums were ripe and ready. I learned how to bake bread. I learned that my teachers were often on my side even when I desperately wanted to keep them from knowing I had a side that someone needed to be on with me. I learned how to make a whole Thanksgiving dinner, from the planning stage through the use of leftovers. I learned how to manage money. And probably most importantly, I learned how to stand on my own two feet, and that I could indeed do that.

I also learned gratitude. I learned to be thankful for every moment you have with someone because you never know when there will be no more moments. I learned to appreciate everything I was given, whether it was a hug or a helping hand or a present, because no one is obligated to give you anything, and for every thing you have and receive, there are those who do not have it. I learned that fear and worry are necessary parts of life, but that life does indeed go on, and that you should always appreciate the little things, whether it's a pure white violet, or a rainbow, or a piece of candy that's fantastic, or the smile of someone who loves you. Otherwise, life really isn't worth the effort.

There's been a severe loss of this kind of thing. People are not thankful any more. They feel they are entitled. There is no graciousness in their receipt of something given. Rather, they demand and take it. Granted, it is sometimes difficult to accept something given. It may be something you really don't want like a jar of limburger-licorice dip, or it may be something that you would rather not have to receive, like a helping hand. If it's given to you in a spirit of love, then be gracious. Say thank you, and smile. It's a small thing, but it makes life so much better.

What brings this up? Well, someone did something for me that I would prefer she hadn't, in part because it may have taken away from her being able to do something for someone else who is in more need than me. Also, she went much further than expected, and did a few things where she meant well but I really would prefer had not been done. Graciousness will lead me to say thank you, and will prevent me from pointing out that perhaps this or that was not a great idea. I appreciate her effort, and find it wonderful that she would want to do such a thing for me. And I hope that I can do something as wonderful for her in return.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I love pickled things.

That said, there are many I have not tried (pickled pigs feet come to mind), but pickle about any vegetable or fruit and I'm intrigued. At this point in time, I have five jars of different kinds of pickles opened in my refrigerator, and another five in the pantry. (This does not, of course, include the pickle relish I keep on hand for when we have hot dogs.) And of course, my favorite pickled things are, indeed, pickles. Classic cucumbers preserved in some combination of vinegar and spices, cooked or not cooked.

As with many things, I spend my life looking for things that do not include high fructose corn syrup or strange preservatives, which can be challenging. I do have some favorites, though.

Trader Joe's offers an organic bread and butter pickle that really reminds me of the ones my grandmother used to make. I was 17 when she passed away at age 101, by the way, so these were the real thing. They also offer traditional cornichons, which have a pleasing crunch and a nice sour taste.

My local market gets a specialty brand, Sechler's, and I have two favorites: candied mixed pickles, and no-garlic hamburger dills. Talk about yummy! These tickle my toes, never mind my taste buds.

So, do you have a food you obsess over in such a way? Inquiring minds want to know....

Life is NOT fair

Some days that is incredibly obvious.

Why is it that it never seems to matter what has actually been accomplished? Why is it that the 20 boxes you have not yet moved are more important than the 15 you have already moved? And that it doesn't matter that you can not move 5 of those 20 without assistance and you're waiting on that help to arrive, it just matters that you haven't actually physically moved them?

Inquiring minds want to know.